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Pregnant? 5 expert ways to boost your bond with your husband

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As we prepare for an event like birth that is unique, instinctual and altogether unpredictable, how can we maintain our relationship with ourselves and our partner?


This is a question Kimberly Johnson, founder of MAGAMAMA, wants every expecting mom to consider. MAGAMAMA is an online community and resource hub for new moms who want natural, empowering solutions to the physical pain and emotional madness that can accompany childbirth.

Truth is, nothing can truly prepare you for what will be one of the most momentous and memorable experiences of your life. However, all birth educators agree that women birth better when they feel relaxed and safe.

Which begs the question, how can you foster that safe feeling in your relationship before the big day comes?

That safe feeling is determined by our outer surroundings, care providers, partners, and our connection to our own inner strength.

Here are five ways to boost your bond with your partner and foster your own confidence:

1. Push your edges by doing things that scare you.

Kimberly Johnson: Obviously there’s a lot you can’t do while pregnant, like rollercoasters and tasting the ever risky grilled blowfish. How about trying new things together as a couple?

For example, improv classes, traveling to new locations, cooking new foods, and really communicating to each other your struggles as you tackle new experiences.

Aim for some variation in your intimate moments—leave the lights on, or turn them off. Try to book a hotel for the night. Remember, once baby comes, you might not get an adults-only getaway for a while.

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2. Find your voice.

Kimberly Johnson: If you’ve had trouble communicating with your partner in the past, try to work on that now. Having a baby is life-changing, and working on finding the language to relate to one another now, before baby comes, will help you bring that into postpartum life too.

The more comfortable you can be stating how you are feeling, without blaming or assuming how your partner feels, the more likely that you will be met with open-hearted curiosity that will lead to satisfying connections.

3. State your desires, and ask your partner about theirs.

Kimberly Johnson: Sushi? Pizza? Can't decide. Thai food. Now is the time to work on stating your preferences without trying to figure out what would be best for your partner, or anticipating what they might want.

The next time “What's for dinner?” becomes five minutes of back-and-forth, pause, check in, and find your preference.

What would you choose if you were by yourself?

Then say, "I'd like _____!" If your partner wants sushi, try to find a third option instead of compromising on your desires, “How about Thai food?”

See if you can find a win-win.

4. Find the inner "yes" and "no" in your body.

Kimberly Johnson: The next time someone asks you a question, and the answer is a resounding, "Yes!!" —notice how you feel in your body.

When I feel a 100 percent green light, my skin feels tingly, my heart races a bit, and my chest expands. How about you?

Then notice what happens when you feel a strong "No!" My jaw tenses, my muscles tighten and my brow furrows. What do you notice?

Most of us are either "yes" or "no" people, one being more habitual than the other. Sometimes if we listen to our body, we can develop a clearer sense of what we want. Without getting your overactive brain involved, as it does with indecision or fatigue, notice how your body is responding, and use your body as the gauge for your answer.

5. Breathe alone and breathe together.

Kimberly Johnson: All of us hold our breath sometimes or forget about our breath completely. Just noticing your breath is already a shift back into the present moment and your physical experience.

It's also fun and connecting to sync up your breathing with your partner.

See if you can sync up without talking, just by watching and feeling one another's movement. You can try it while facing each other, while sitting side by side, and while sitting back to back. Each will be a different experience and will prepare you for attuning during labor, and after.

Kimberly is chalk full of great anecdotes and advice. Here are a few more questions we wanted to ask her:

How do you make your mornings run smoothly?

Kimberly Johnson: I would like to say I make lunches the night before, that we both lay out our clothes the night before, or that I have a meal plan calendar. None of those things happen, ever.

The main ingredient of a smooth morning for me is having gotten enough sleep the night before. That way I have levity to deal with whatever mood my daughter wakes up in, and whatever other unpredictables arise.

What is the life hack or tip that has changed your life?

Kimberly Johnson: Somatic Experiencing Trauma Resolution Therapy is my life hack.

It’s like an experience of being deeply human and coming home to myself in my body. A less extensive one is leave my phone in the other room or out of my sight if I want to have a meaningful interaction (which I most often do) or if I want to get anything done.

What superpower have you discovered as a mom?

Kimberly Johnson: My superpower is improvisation. I have become a master of the “roll with it” attitude. Very little has gone as I thought it would or at all similar to how I was raised, so I have learned to let go of ideals, and go with options that work.

This quote inspires me...

A mother’s body against a child’s body make a place. It says you are here. Without this body there is no place.
— Eve Ensler, from In the Body of the World

To me, "motherly" means…

Kimberly Johnson: It means summoning the deepest of powers, that often get awakened through a descent, to hold onto ourselves as women, as we parent children. It requires real magic to hold all the spaces of mother, woman, daughter, lover, and creator.


Kimberly Johnson is the author of the upcoming book, The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions, and Restoring Your Vitality, where she goes in-depth into how to safeguard and baby proof your marriage as well as how to get intimacy back if it feels lost.

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If there's one thing you learn as a new mama, it's that routine is your friend. Routine keeps your world spinning, even when you're trucking along on less than four hours of sleep. Routine fends off tantrums by making sure bellies are always full and errands aren't run when everyone's patience is wearing thin. And routine means naps are taken when they're supposed to, helping everyone get through the day with needed breaks.

The only problem? Life doesn't always go perfectly with the routine. When my daughter was born, I realized quickly that, while her naps were the key to a successful (and nearly tear-free!) day, living my life according to her nap schedule wasn't always possible. There were groceries to fetch, dry cleaning to pick up, and―if I wanted to maintain any kind of social life―lunch dates with friends to enjoy.

Which is why the Ergobaby Metro Compact City Stroller was such a life-saver. While I loved that it was just 14 pounds (perfect for hoisting up the stairs to the subway or in the park) and folds down small enough to fit in an airplane overhead compartment (you know, when I'm brave enough to travel again!), the real genius of this pint-sized powerhouse is that it doesn't skimp on comfort.

Nearly every surface your baby touches is padded with plush cushions to provide side and lumbar support to everything from their sweet head to their tiny tush―it has 40% more padding than other compact strollers. When nap time rolls around, I could simply switch the seat to its reclined position with an adjustable leg rest to create an instant cozy nest for my little one.

There's even a large UV 50 sun canopy to throw a little shade on those sleepy eyes. And my baby wasn't the only one benefiting from the comfortable design― the Metro is the only stroller certified "back healthy" by the AGR of Germany, meaning mamas get a much-needed break too.

I also appreciate how the Metro fits comfortably into my life. The sleek profile fits through narrow store aisles as easily as it slides up to a table when I'm able to meet a pal for brunch. Plus, the spring suspension means the tires absorb any bumps along our way―helping baby stay asleep no matter where life takes us. When it's time to take my daughter out, it folds easily with one hand and has an ergonomic carry handle to travel anywhere we want to go.

Life will probably never be as predictable as I'd like, but at least with our Metro stroller, I know my child will be cradled with care no matter what crosses our path.

This article is sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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The phrase "women can have it all" has always left a sour taste in my mouth. Sure, our options for fulfillment extend beyond the home. But between wage gaps, the astronomical cost of childcare, student loans and ever-rising living costs coupled with shrinking wages, can we have it all?

Some women know their calling is at home with their babies and they make it work. They budget like it's an Olympic sport and find resourceful ways to save money. Many women are single mothers and are the sole earners in their homes. Every household has different needs and we absolutely deserve to choose whatever best fits our lifestyle.

Whatever that fit may be, it never encompasses "all."

I knew from a young age that I loved babies and wanted a family of my own, but that vision always included me working. Maybe it was the 90's TV boom of Ally McBeal and Detective Olivia Benson but I knew I wanted a career. I wanted a purpose that contributed to the world outside of my home. I knew I wanted a degree or two, maybe three. The fact that I made up my mind so early and never wavered, made me sure that "mom guilt" was something that other women felt; women who maybe felt the pull to be home but other circumstances were in their way.

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Mom guilt wouldn't hit me, I'd be immune, I thought.

Fast forward to the first month I went back to work from maternity leave. I ugly cried on my way into the office so frequently that I kept makeup in my car so I could fix it before going inside.

I'd dive headfirst into work until I had to pause to pump. Work, pump, work, pump, shove in some lunch at my desk at some point and sprint out the door to get my baby. I was productive but distracted. When I was at work, I wanted to be home. When I was home, I thought about the possible mistakes I had made at work.

I was in a job that was full of stress, last minute late nights, terrible pay and no appreciation. But from the standpoint of working and having a family, I had both. I had it "all."

Some days, I felt as though I was maybe just ungrateful for all the responsibilities I had to juggle. I blamed my attitude.

Facing my unhappiness at work and the baggage I brought home to my daughter and husband weighed on me. Then, six months postpartum, I lost my dad. I packed up that baby and flew home to say goodbye.

At the visitation, his colleagues shared many memorable stories, but the ones that kept coming up were his dedication to his wife and six children. They were memories of my sisters and I hanging out in his office, coloring while our mom worked. In fact, one of my masterpieces, a mosaic Great Dane, still hangs in my dad's old office window on Court Street because the owner of the building watched us grow up and didn't have the heart to take it down when he retired.

Dad was an attorney who nearly always made it home by 5:30, something unheard of in the world of owning your own practice. He didn't live to work; he worked to live.

I realized that when I leave this world, I don't want anyone to tell my children stories about how hard I worked. I wanted them to tell my children stories about how much I loved them and that they always came first. I had to make a change.

The right doors opened in the next month and I eagerly took on an entire career change (not something I necessarily recommend with a 7-month-old, but we made it work). I closed the doors of childhood ambitions that didn't match with the type of mother I wanted to be. It wasn't sad, it was liberating.

My new job included work from home days and a team of women, mostly moms, who value hard work and success but prioritize family and their roles as mothers. That attitude starts at the top of the company and trickles down. It was a breath of fresh air after seven months of feeling like I was suffocating.

Despite these life changes, I still don't have it "all." What I do have is realistic expectations for what I can accomplish in a day.

I have a house that looks like it's been ransacked Monday through Friday. I have a sink full of dishes.

I have a car littered with smashed cheddar frogs and peanut butter smears. I have a bedroom containing endless laundry baskets of clean clothes that get folded and put away maybe once a month.

I have a supportive partner whom I madly love and helps me rage clean all of the above when we can't take it anymore. I have a happy, healthy daughter who couldn't care less about dishes, laundry and dog hairballs.

I have a job that contributes to the betterment of humanity and a team who makes office days a joy.

I have women in my ear sharing their disdain for me working out of the home, but I also have women in my ear championing me as a mother, wife, homemaker, and career woman.

Maybe the answer to finding that peace was leaving a toxic job. Or maybe it was found in losing my dad and having my daughter in the same six months. Perhaps it was the priority shift that followed those changes. It could have been extending the same grace to myself that I so willingly give to those I love. Whatever it was, I'm grateful to have found it so I can enjoy living in our good old days, today. I don't have it all, but I really love everything I have.

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It's been more than a year since Khloé Kardashian welcomed her daughter True Thompson into the world, and like a lot of new moms, Khloé didn't just learn how to to be a mom this year, she also learned how to co-parent with someone who is no longer her partner. According to the Pew Research Center, co-parenting and the likelihood that a child will spend part of their childhood living with just one parent is on the rise.

There was a ton of media attention on Khloé's relationship with True's father Tristan Thompson in her early days of motherhood, and in a new interview on the podcast "Divorce Sucks!," Khloé explained that co-parenting with someone you have a complicated relationship with isn't always easy, but when she looks at True she knows it's worth it.

"For me, Tristan and I broke up not too long ago so it's really raw," Khloé tells divorce attorney Laura Wasser on the podcast. She explains that even though it does "suck" at times, she's committed to having a good relationship with her ex because she doesn't want True to pick up on any negative energy, even at her young age.

That's why she invited Tristan to True's recent first birthday bash, even though she knew True wouldn't remember that party. "I know she's going to want to look back at all of her childhood memories like we all do," Khloé explained. "I know her dad is a great person, and I know how much he loves her and cares about her, so I want him to be there."

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We totally get why being around Tristan is hard for Khloé, but it sounds like she's approaching co-parenting with a positive attitude that will benefit True in the long run. Studies have found that shared parenting is good for kids and that former couples who have "ongoing personal and emotional involvement with their former spouse" are more likely to rate their co-parenting relationship positively.

Khloé says her relationship with Tristan right now is "civilized," and hopefully it can get even better with time. As Suzanne Hayes noted in her six guiding principles for a co-parenting relationship, there's no magic bullet for moving past the painful feelings that come when a relationship ends and into a healthy co-parenting relationship, but treating your ex with respect and (non-romantic) love is a good place to start. Hayes describes it as "human-to-human, parent-to-parent, we-share-amazing-children-and-always-will love."

It's a great place to start, and it sounds like Khloé has already figured that out.

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Kim Kardashian West welcomed her fourth child into the world. The expectancy and arrival of this boy (her second child from surrogacy) has garnered much attention.

In a surrogacy pregnancy, a woman carries a pregnancy for another family and then after giving birth she relinquishes her rights of the child.

On her website, Kim wrote that she had medical complications with her previous pregnancy leading her to this decision. “I have always been really honest about my struggles with pregnancy. Preeclampsia and placenta accreta are high-risk conditions, so when I wanted to have a third baby, doctors said that it wasn't safe for my—or the baby's—health to carry on my own."

While the experience was challenging for her, “The connection with our baby came instantly and it's as if she was with us the whole time. Having a gestational carrier was so special for us and she made our dreams of expanding our family come true. We are so excited to finally welcome home our baby girl."

A Snapchat video hinted that Kim may have planned to breastfeed her third child. What she chooses to do is of course none of our business. But is has raised the very interesting question, “Wait, can you breastfeed when you use a surrogate?"

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The answer is yes, you sure can! (And you can when you adopt a baby, too!)

When a women is pregnant, she begins a process called lactogenesis in which her body prepares itself to start making milk. This usually starts around the twenty week mark of pregnancy (half way through). Then, when the baby is born, the second phase of lactogenesis occurs, and milk actually starts to fill the breasts.

All of this occurs in response to hormones. When women do not carry a pregnancy, but wish to breastfeed, they can induce lactation, where they replicate the same hormonal process that happens during pregnancy.

A woman who wants to induce lactation can work with a doctor or midwife, and start taking the hormones estrogen and progesterone (which grow breast tissue)—often in the form of birth control pills—along with a medication called domperidone (which increases milk production).

Several weeks before the baby will be born, the woman stops taking the birth control pill but continues to take the domperidone to simulate the hormonal changes that would happen in a pregnancy. She'll also start pumping multiple times per day, and will likely add herbal supplements, like fenugreek and blessed thistle.

Women can also try to induce lactation without the hormones, by using pumping and herbs, it may be harder but some women feel more comfortable with that route.

Inducing lactation takes a lot of dedication—but then again, so does everything related to be a mama. It's a super personal decision, and not right for everyone.

The important thing to remember is that we need to support women and mothers through their entire journey, no matter what decisions they make about themselves and their families—whether Kardashian or the rest of us.

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